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Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: Randy Dorn

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December 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Gov’s plan would spur court sanctions, says state schools chief

Washington state schools chief Randy Dorn lambasted Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed education budget Tuesday, saying it falls far short of what the state Supreme Court has ordered lawmakers to do when it comes to how much money they provide to public schools.

In his budget, released Monday, Inslee said he wants to pay for all-day public kindergarten and reduce average class sizes in grades K-3. But he did not set any money aside for reducing the number of students per class  in grades 4-12, which voters approved in the November election. And while Inslee suggests reinstating cost-of-living raises for teachers, Dorn says that’s not enough.

To meet the court’s requirements, Dorn said, lawmakers must fund a basic education for all students, without school districts having to contribute to those costs through local property tax levies.

“This issue is not complicated,” Dorn wrote. “Over and over again our courts have ruled that relying on levies to fund a major portion of our education system is unconstitutional.”

Dorn said Inslee’s proposal, if adopted, will lead the Supreme Court to sanction lawmakers.

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Comments | Topics: class size, Education budget, Initiative 1351

August 15, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Former teacher focused on equity mulls run for state superintendent

Despite the highly politicized climate around education, there was little such rhetoric at the first Teachers United conference on Thursday. That may surprise some — like the handful of protesters gathered outside — who view the three-year-old organization as little more than a union-busting wedge.

True, Teachers United has supported charter schools and opposed several aspects of tenure, particularly the “last in, first out” seniority-based hiring policies that are dear to labor. Yet inside the Transformative Teaching Conference at UW’s Alder Hall, educators representing nearly 30 Washington school districts were learning from one another about adolescent brain science and promising trends in education technology.

Erin Jones speaking at the Teachers United conference on Thursday. Photo courtesy Kristina McCormick/Teachers United.

Erin Jones speaking at the Teachers United conference on Thursday. Photo courtesy Kristina McCormick/Teachers United.

Keynote speaker Erin Jones, however, may be a politician-in-the-making. In her half-hour talk, Jones, 43, a former English and foreign language teacher, discussed her mission to change the way educators are trained, as well as the eye-opening experience of watching her own African-American children navigate public schools.

“I’m never going to college because college is for white people,” Jones’ 6-year-old daughter said one evening at the dinner table.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Erin Jones, Randy Dorn, Teachers United

July 21, 2014 at 5:03 PM

No go: Feds deny state request to reinstate part of No Child waiver

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn (Photo by Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Randy Dorn

As we reported earlier today on the Today File blog, the U.S. Department of Education has denied Washington state’s request to reinstate one piece of the state’s former No Child Left Behind waiver.

As a result, most schools in the state will be required to send letters to parents before school starts this fall, telling them their schools are falling short of the federal test-score requirements. By 2014, the No Child law had required a 100 percent passage rates on state tests in reading and math in grades 3-8 and 10.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn had asked that schools be spared the need to send those letters, but the U.S. Department of Education said no.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: No Child Left Behind, Randy Dorn, waiver

November 18, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Reality check: Was high praise warranted for state’s performance on NAEP?

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn (Photo by Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn (Photo by Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn is trumpeting Washington state’s performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a set of tests that a sample of students take every few years in selected grades and subjects.

On Wednesday, his office issued a news release with a link to hear U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan praise Washington for its gains this year.

But the picture isn’t quite that simple.

Washington students’ scores did go up and, in a simple ranking, went up more than most other states.  But according to a critique by Tom Loveless, such rankings lose a lot of meaning when the tests’ margin of error are taken into account. For those who want to dive deep into the details, Loveless provides it.

For those who just want the conclusion: Washington did improve, but not as much as Duncan’s message may make it sound.  And when it comes to overall scores, it’s really only safe to say that Washington ranks somewhere in the middle.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Arne Duncan, NAEP, Randy Dorn